With a modest fanfare (but no flourishing of trumpets), the TTC proclaimed its Customer Service Charter on February 28, 2013, at a press conference held at the busy Bloor-Yonge Station. This is a “good news” story, at least for the TTC for whom “customer service” is the new mantra. Senior management at the TTC seem to be headed in the right direction, but I couldn’t help feeling that I had been offered a banquet and found, instead, a snack.
The question of customer service reaches back into the days of the Miller/Giambrone administration. I have written at some length on this issue before.
- Service, Courtesy, Safety (Parts I, II and III)
- Three Views of Customer Service
- Has TTC Management Hijacked “Customer Service”?
- More Icing, Less Cake
Although the earlier exercises were well-meaning, this process has been underway for over three years. In August 2010, an advisory panel produced a report that included more recommendations for ways TTC passengers could improve their behaviour than ways the TTC could provide better service to riders. The effort had all the earmarks of a self-serving justification for inaction from an organization far too set in its ways. Indeed, a panel member confirmed to me that TTC management had a large influence in the report, an obvious conflict where the customer viewpoint should be paramount.
In October 2011, TTC Chair Karen Stintz said that “it would take some time” to implement recommendations as “culture change” is not an overnight thing in an old organization. That’s a fair comment, but this argument cannot be trotted out forever to imply that some changes will come eventually, just not now. “TTC culture” is a phrase I have heard for years well back into Adam Giambrone’s term as chair, and it is wearing rather thin after so long.
Those of us who have a long history of TTC watching are inevitably suspicious of this process, and it is with that background I approached the announcement.